Think “Twilight” and you’ll probably conjure thoughts of Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, the actors who bring the saga’s characters to life on the big screen.
But to readers who prefer the audio book versions of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” novels, lyana Kadushin is as big a star as the aforementioned celebrities.
Big Hollywood checked in with Kadushin to find out more about being the voice of the “Twilight” audio book series and her various artistic projects.
Christian Toto: Your online bio recalls how you would narrate stories into a recorder as a child. Did your family embrace your artistic side? Did they suspect it would blossom into not just a hobby but a career?
Ilyana Kadusin: My family has always been incredibly supportive and inspired by my creative path, and I am very grateful. I think they always suspected and hoped, that with all the hours of singing, dancing and making up characters into the recorder, that it was destined to become a big part of my life.
Kadushin: It really began when I started freelancing with an agent and was cast for commercials on television and radio. It progressed from there, when I was cast as the voice of Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. programming for the little ones. After this, I also started performing in video games, animation and audio book narrations.
Toto: What is the most challenging aspect of bringing a book to life with your voice, and how do you see yourself improving as a voice over artist?
Kadushin: Audio book narration is one of the most challenging and rewarding areas of voice performing. It is unique because what other acting job allows you to play every character in a story? This fact also makes it challenging, because you can relate to some characters and some not as well. Every narrator is giving their rendition of that story. The challenge is to always stay true to the author’s intent for their story. With every book I narrate I want to bring the story to life in a way that is entertaining and truthful.
Toto: What drew you to the “Twilight” assignment, and did doing the voice over work for the series give you a unique perspective on why these stories are so passionately embraced by readers?
Kadushin: In 2005, I was called in to audition for the “Twilight” audio book along with many other actresses. This was, of course, before anyone knew about these books at all. They were looking for a woman who could sound like a teenager and understand the character of Bella. It was actually the first audio book I was ever cast for. Since then, I have narrated the entire “Twilight” Saga audio books and it became this giant phenomenon. When I travel to book store signings, readings and events, I always ask the fans themselves what it was they loved so much about these stories. I think the paranormal romantic adventure without too much gratuitous sex and violence was something of a departure from the rest of pop culture that teens have around them.
Toto: When you read now in your leisure time do you find yourself slipping into “work mode” or interpreting the content in a different way than before given the wok you do?
Kadushin: I am a voracious reader. I always have a stack of books that I am reading. I love reading many different genres of books. And I lose myself inside the book the same way I do when I narrate. I look for books that have strong voices in their characters and of course great imagination.
Toto: I imagine you get fan mail/reactions to your “Twilight” work. Any interesting anecdotes to share?
Kadushin: I think it was between the 2nd and 3rd audio book coming out that I started getting fan letters and they came from every country around the globe. Fans wrote from Asia, Eastern Europe, Australia, the Middle East, everywhere … it really blew my mind. I even received letters from soldiers in Afghanistan. I realized then just how widespread this series had become. It always feels great to have fans write you and tell you how you made them feel by telling them a story. I have always loved that I am a story teller and that I am reading to people from many different countries!
Toto: Your production company Lythion Music writes a great deal of music for documentaries and TV productions. Do you see that expanding in the years to come, and how is social media impacting the work you do?’
Kadushin: Yes, I created LythionMusic with my husband and composer, James Harrell. We write and produce original music for all mediums. Our first job together was writing music for Nickelodeon Television. Since then we have worked on commercials, television pilots, animation and documentary films. This year we will be scoring a feature film and developing a musical. Social Media has allowed me to introduce my music work to my voice fans. It can be a great tool for getting the word out about projects that inspire me and that I want to share with everyone!
Toto: Is there a particular musical project you are the most proud of, and why?
Kadushin: I would say our most recent project: In 2011 we finished producing and scoring the documentary “Separate, But Equal.” This film won the 2011 HBO Best Documentary Film Award at The Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival. I am proud of the music we wrote for this film and I am so proud of the film itself; it will be becoming a permanent part of The Smithsonian Museum.
Toto: Do you envision yourself acting, performing and making music as the opportunities arise down the road, or in a perfect would would you lean much more heavily on one specific direction?
Kadushin: I enjoy all of these experiences and I am open to continuing all of them as the opportunities arise.
Toto: Have you found your various artistic professions all tend to feed one another? Can you describe a little how that might work for someone who never picked up a brush, sang a note or stepped onto the stage?
Kadushin: Yes, all these creative areas feed each other. My music can inspire my acting and vice versa. Being in a creative frame of mind and having a career as an artist, requires a kind of discipline and focus that allows you to see the benefits of all your creative moments and how they are all a part of who you are becoming as an artist.